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Learn About Parents' Right to Examine School Records - IDEA Parent Rights

Parents' Right to Examine Children's Special Education Records Under IDEA


Updated November 30, 2009

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to allow the parents of a child with a disability to inspect and review all special education records. If the parents request it, districts must provide a list of the types and location of records they keep and use in special education decision making for their learning disabled children.

Parents may review documents such as:

In addition to access to records, parents may request:
  • An explanation of documents, such as evaluation reports, in the folders;
  • A copy of records. Schools must provide a copy at no charge if parents cannot pay.
  • That copies be mailed to them if they are unable to pick them up.
  • That their representatives may view records with signed permission.
  • That the district remove incorrect information from the student's folder. The district must consider the request but may choose to keep documents in if the information is deemed relevant to the child's educational program. If the request is denied, the district must notify parents of their right to request a records hearing. A hearing concerning the students' records is different from a due process hearings under the IDEA. Parents may write a statement explaining their objection to the material, however, and have it placed in the student's record.

Parents may review records before Individual Education Program team meetings or a due process hearing.

Regulations recognize that school districts need a reasonable time frame to respond to parent requests, and they may have up to 45 calendar days to respond.

School districts provide custodial and non-custodial parents access to their children's records unless there is a court order, law, or legal document (such as in a divorce or custody document) that terminates a parent's rights.

Districts must keep a record of anyone who accesses the child's special education records. The record must state the name of the person reviewing the file, the date, and the reason for the review. The district does not have to keep a record of access by the parent, the child's teachers, or other school staff with a legitimate educational reason for accessing the file.

If the record the parents wish to review contains information on other children, the parents can only have access to the information pertaining to their own children.

More on Disability Laws Affecting Your Child's Education:

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